US Health and Human Services targeted by DDoS scum at just the time it's needed to be up and running

Miscreants also hammer Euro websites as well, because why not?


In an impeccable instance of horrible timing, the US government's Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) says it fended off a cyberattack by online scumbags.

The department told The Reg on Monday it was on the receiving end of what was believed to be a failed distributed denial of service (DDoS) assault the previous day.

The attack – presumably not a load of citizens hitting Uncle Sam's web servers looking for information – did not, we're told, have had any serious impact on operations, but with American's desperate for information about the coronavirus pandemic, the attempted takedown came at the worst possible time.

"HHS has an IT infrastructure with risk-based security controls continuously monitored in order to detect and address cybersecurity threats and vulnerabilities," a spokesperson for the department told The Register.

"On Sunday, we became aware of a significant increase in activity on HHS cyber infrastructure and are fully operational as we actively investigate the matter."

The timing of these probings and forays is unwelcome: folks are turning to official sources for details on how to cope with the novel coronavirus. With states and cities across America taking unprecedented steps to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus, government officials are more than taxed with public awareness efforts.

Using video conferencing in bed

Zoom goes boom, Teams tears at seams: Technology stumbles at the first hurdle for this homeworking malarkey

READ MORE

Fortunately, in this case it might have been the department's own planning that prevented an outage, as the extra headroom in capacity appears to have absorbed the assault.

"Early on while preparing and responding to COVID-19, HHS put extra protections in place," El Reg was told. "We are coordinating with federal law enforcement and remain vigilant and focused on ensuring the integrity of our IT infrastructure."

At the time of writing, the HHS website remained fully operational.

Sadly, it seems that the pattern of utter scum targeting health agencies is a global affair. Administrators in the hospital at University Hospital Brno in the Czech Republic report receiving similar cyberattacks.

"According to [the hospital director], some computer operations are limited, but examinations and acute operations work, but staff writes information on paper," local news reports.

"The medical facility canceled the planned operations and diverted some patients to nearby hospitals." ®

Narrower topics


Other stories you might like

  • Cheers ransomware hits VMware ESXi systems
    Now we can say extortionware has jumped the shark

    Another ransomware strain is targeting VMware ESXi servers, which have been the focus of extortionists and other miscreants in recent months.

    ESXi, a bare-metal hypervisor used by a broad range of organizations throughout the world, has become the target of such ransomware families as LockBit, Hive, and RansomEXX. The ubiquitous use of the technology, and the size of some companies that use it has made it an efficient way for crooks to infect large numbers of virtualized systems and connected devices and equipment, according to researchers with Trend Micro.

    "ESXi is widely used in enterprise settings for server virtualization," Trend Micro noted in a write-up this week. "It is therefore a popular target for ransomware attacks … Compromising ESXi servers has been a scheme used by some notorious cybercriminal groups because it is a means to swiftly spread the ransomware to many devices."

    Continue reading
  • Twitter founder Dorsey beats hasty retweet from the board
    As shareholders sue the social network amid Elon Musk's takeover scramble

    Twitter has officially entered the post-Dorsey age: its founder and two-time CEO's board term expired Wednesday, marking the first time the social media company hasn't had him around in some capacity.

    Jack Dorsey announced his resignation as Twitter chief exec in November 2021, and passed the baton to Parag Agrawal while remaining on the board. Now that board term has ended, and Dorsey has stepped down as expected. Agrawal has taken Dorsey's board seat; Salesforce co-CEO Bret Taylor has assumed the role of Twitter's board chair. 

    In his resignation announcement, Dorsey – who co-founded and is CEO of Block (formerly Square) – said having founders leading the companies they created can be severely limiting for an organization and can serve as a single point of failure. "I believe it's critical a company can stand on its own, free of its founder's influence or direction," Dorsey said. He didn't respond to a request for further comment today. 

    Continue reading
  • Snowflake stock drops as some top customers cut usage
    You might say its valuation is melting away

    IPO darling Snowflake's share price took a beating in an already bearish market for tech stocks after filing weaker than expected financial guidance amid a slowdown in orders from some of its largest customers.

    For its first quarter of fiscal 2023, ended April 30, Snowflake's revenue grew 85 percent year-on-year to $422.4 million. The company made an operating loss of $188.8 million, albeit down from $205.6 million a year ago.

    Although surpassing revenue expectations, the cloud-based data warehousing business saw its valuation tumble 16 percent in extended trading on Wednesday. Its stock price dived from $133 apiece to $117 in after-hours trading, and today is cruising back at $127. That stumble arrived amid a general tech stock sell-off some observers said was overdue.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022